Holiday SOS

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 August, 2009, 12:00am

Holiday SOS
by Ben MacFarlane
Hodder & Stoughton HK$185

Holiday SOS is enough to make you stay at home. A doctor who ditched hospital shifts to travel the world rescuing the sick and injured, Ben MacFarlane packs his book with anecdote upon anecdote about 'the best job in the world'. Apart from the satisfying challenge of many of the repatriations, it allowed him to see the world. MacFarlane begins with a tale that should be recounted to anyone considering taking a motorcycle for a spin on unfamiliar roads. Toby, 18, is in a hospital in Turkey with considerably less skin on his body when MacFarlane meets him than when he began his trip. When the boy's chest drain falls out mid-flight on the way home to Britain, the doctor has minutes to save his life. There is also the student who is hit by a car because she has forgotten that Italians drive on the right ... and on the pavement. And the party girl in Barcelona who has had a stroke, caused by cocaine and a surge of blood pressure that bursts an artery in her brain. Although the writing is breezy, readers will be chilled by the thought, 'That could be me.' Which makes the book worth reading, if only as a reminder of how fun in the sun can quickly turn into a holiday in hell.